Earlier this week, I woke up to the terribly sad news that Jacinda Barclay died. All social media feeds were filled with messages of love and sadness over Jacinda's passing.
Born in 1991 in Australia, Jacinda played baseball, Australian football, and American football at the highest levels. She not only played, she excelled at all, playing for the Australian national team in five Women's Baseball World Cups, the Chicago Bliss in the Legends Football League and Greater Western Sydney in the AFL Women's competition.
A right-handed pitcher, Jacinda made her state debut for Western Australia at the age of 15 at the 2006 national championships. Jacinda played for the Australian national team in the 2008 World Cup at the age of 17. She won a silver medal at the 2010 World Cup and played in the World Cup three more times.
At the young age of 12, Jacinda began playing Australian football. Jacinda played with the New South Wales Surge for the inaugural 2013–14 season of LFL Australia. Leading the Surge to the title, she earned the Best Offensive Player award. In 2016, she joined the Chicago Bliss and won another championship.
Jacinda worked hard on and off the field. Over the years, she held several jobs, juggling her various schedules to make a living and still play the sports she loved. She was an assistant life-support technician, who worked off-shore for two-to-five weeks at a time, a laborer, a ward clerk at a private hospital and other roles. Above all, she was a gifted athlete who worked tirelessly to be the best.
Global Women's Sports Radio founder Henry Gee interviewed Jacinda several years ago. That interview is even more special now.
I didn't know Jacinda very well. I do know she was a tremendously positive person, who exuded energy. Jacinda's impact and legacy go well beyond statistics, awards and championships. Rather than me trying to properly honor her memory, I am turning to friends and former teammates who knew her better.
Former Chicago Bliss teammate Deena Fagiano wrote, “Devastated, my heart is broken. The world has lost the brightest light, most badass athlete, and amazing friend Jacinda Barclay.
I am honored to have had you in my life and play along side you. Your energy was Infectious and I will always be inspired by your determination.
Your bravery to travel around the world to lead a team you had never met always continues to impress me and I will always have incredible respect for you. You Always Always made me laugh by doing some goofy "Aussie" something and I will continue to hold on to those memories forever!
RIP girl. Love you and you will always be missed.”
Former Chicago Bliss teammate Dominique Collins wrote, “Speechless and devastated. The world will no longer feel your electrifying energy. The world has lost someone very, very special today. Cinda Barclay you are hands down the hardest worker I've ever met. The entire world is devastated. You've touched so many lives with your compassion, sense of humor and leadership. You played National Baseball, Australian and American Football and have championships with all of them. You are literally untouchable. I thank God I was blessed to have you as a teammate and I pray I get to corner blitz on you when we play again someday.
RIP Jacinda. We love you.”
Former Chicago Bliss teammate Yashi Rice wrote, “You were a gift to the world. Rest well teammate.”
Former Surge teammate Bonnie Gillespie wrote, “Love you always and forever Cinda Barclay.
Yesterday brought heartache for family, Friends, Supporters/fans many all over the world .
Receiving a message this morning, I dropped my phone in shock...disbelief as I recently spoke with her. I couldn't believe it and was saying to myself "it cant be true!” Cinda your smile, your welcoming free loving heart, your positive personality, your uplifting spirit, the way you spoke to people, your patience, your peaceful aura didn't have to leave us.”
Former Surge teammate Shari Olney wrote, “My heart is broken, this hurts so badly, words cannot suffice.
Your smile and laugh lit up every room. You gave everyone the time of day. A true individual, a free spirited, unique beauty and a wonderful loyal friend.
Your sporting prowess was admirable, no short cuts, no excuses, a warrior mentality, that ethic always resonated with me. Sport brought us together, but the ability to create a deep human connection and laugh until our bellies ached kept our friendship alive long after.
You were supportive, resilient and always the optimist. You were an Inspiration to many, you’ll always be my sunshine. My sincerest condolences go out to your family. I know I won’t meet anyone quite like you and I’ll never forget you my JBomb Cinda Barclay”
Former Bliss QB coach Matt Pike stated, "I’m sitting here writing this with a broken heart and tears in my eyes. A lot of you have seen posts and videos of my amazing friend and qb Cinda Barclay, and I am saddened to share she has passed on.
She was one of the most competitive, hard working, relentless on her pursuit to be the best.
When I was struggling and few years ago, she always had something to say that made it better for me, she always just had a way to communicate positively about things with honesty. She was a true friend, teammate, leader, and comedian.
This one hurts and I’m at a loss for words.
I’m truly gonna miss our talks via FaceTime and that West Aussie accent. Love you my friend.”
Lastly, former Chicago Bliss Head Coach Keith Hac wrote a beautifully heartfelt, lengthy statement on Facebook. He started with, “I write this story with a broken heart.” Coach Hac then wrote of his history with Jacinda. He summed it poignantly with his last paragraph. “As a coach you see players come and go. Some impact more then others. For all the right reasons, Jacinda will forever be one of those that I will never forget and I am a better person for knowing her for the amount of time I did. You will be missed.”
I debated how I wanted to write this story. I wanted to give a brief biography on Jacinda, but I wasn't sure what else I could write to honor Jacinda in the best way. Then I realized it was better to let others write the most important parts.
Jacinda touched so many lives. She left everyone with warm memories that go beyond the football field. Jacinda will be missed terribly, but will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace, Jacinda Barclay.
Jacinda Barclay, Kristin Kampa, Deena Fagiano, Rosanne Ocampo, me and Dominique Collins in Chicago, IL-April 2016.